Monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities [E/CN.5/2005/5] - Part 2
Recreation and sports
- Respondents were asked about measures taken by the State to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal opportunities to participate in recreation and sports.
- Country responses ranged as follows: 50.9 per cent have adopted policies to ensure the right of persons with disabilities to participate in sports and recreational activities; 36.8 per cent have passed legislation; 60.5 per cent have allocated financial resources; 55.3 per cent have raised public awareness; and 53.5 per cent have raised awareness of those rights among persons with disabilities themselves.
- Accessible venues and spaces to practise and participate in sports, accessible information regarding sports and recreational activities and accessible sporting activities were reported by 52.5, 49.6 and 64.6 per cent of the countries, respectively. In 14.2 per cent of the countries, no measures have been taken to ensure the participation of persons with disabilities in sports and recreational activities.
- In terms of the level of participation of persons with disabilities, 59.3 per cent of countries reported participation at the community level, 70.8 per cent reported participation at the national level and 68.1 per cent reported participation at the international level.
- Among those countries that responded, 47.8 per cent reported persons with disabilities participating as amateur athletes while 24.8 per cent reported them participating as professional athletes. Some 19.5 per cent reported that no opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in athletics and recreational sports were available at any of the levels mentioned above.
- Asked about the accessibility of sports, recreational and athletic venues, 54.9 per cent of the respondents said that they were accessible.
- Respondents were asked about the measures taken by Governments to encourage equal participation of persons with disabilities in the religious life of their communities.
- The survey revealed that 30.1 per cent have adopted policies, 23.9 per cent have passed legislation, 23.0 per cent have adopted programmes and 23.0 per cent have allocated financial resources for that purpose; 32.7 per cent have raised public awareness of the religious rights of persons with disabilities; and 28.3 per cent have raised awareness of those rights among persons with disabilities themselves.
- With respect to the accessibility of places of worship and religious events, 29.2 per cent of the countries stated that they were accessible; 35.4 per cent provided accessible information regarding religious services and events; and 35.4 per cent ensured that religious services and events were accessible to persons with disabilities.
- On the question of accessibility to religious services for all persons with disabilities, 54.9 per cent responded positively.
Information and research
- Respondents were asked whether Governments collected and disseminated information on the living conditions of persons with disabilities and promoted comprehensive research on all aspects, including obstacles that affect the lives of persons with disabilities.
- Results indicate that 42.5 per cent of countries have adopted policies on this matter, 27.4 per cent have passed legislation, 41.6 per cent have adopted programmes and 42.5 per cent have allocated financial resources.
- In addition, 44.2 per cent of Governments have programmes to raise awareness of the need for statistics and information; 69.0 per cent collect data and information; 60.2 per cent collaborate with disabled persons' organizations; 46.0 per cent disseminate statistics and information to users and researchers; and 45.1 per cent update their statistics periodically. Only 17.7 per cent of countries have no programmes for collecting and disseminating statistics and conducting research into disability issues.
- Asked about the existence of systems for collecting, processing, analysing and publishing data about disability, 55.8 per cent responded positively while 44.2 per cent said that they had no such system.
- On the areas covered by disability statistics, 58.4 per cent have statistics dealing with the prevalence and incidence of disability; 72.6 per cent have statistics on the types of disabilities; and 55.8 per cent have statistics broken down by gender, age, background, social and economic situation and geographical location. In 47.8 per cent of countries, statistics cover the needs of persons with disabilities; in 53.1 per cent they deal with the programmes and services provided to persons with disabilities; and in 42.5 per cent they include the availability, scope and coverage of services.
- Standard of living statistics for persons with disabilities are available in 52.2 per cent of the countries. In 58.4 per cent of the countries, statistics cover the educational levels of persons with disabilities; in 29.2 per cent they cover employment; and in 24.1 per cent there are statistics on the expense incurred by having a disability.
- Some 20.4 per cent of countries have statistics about the effect of social policies on persons with disabilities; 16.8 per cent monitor the type of research being undertaken and the parties conducting it; and 41.6 per cent collect data on disabled persons' organizations, their programmes, services and coverage.
- Respondents were asked what economic policies Governments have adopted to create equal opportunities for persons with disabilities.
- Of the countries that responded, 43.4 per cent have adopted economic policies specific to persons with disabilities; 40.7 per cent have passed legislation; 62.8 per cent offer financial support to projects relevant to persons with disabilities; and 49.9 per cent have created a fund to support grass-roots projects and programmes for persons with disabilities. Additionally, 43.4 per cent have involved disabled persons' organizations in financial planning while 18.6 per cent have not taken any financial measures.
Coordination of work
- Respondents were asked what actions Governments had taken to establish and strengthen national coordinating bodies on disability.
- The survey found that 61.9 per cent of countries have established permanent coordination committees; 49.6 per cent have bestowed a legal status on those committees; 45.1 per cent have allocated budgets to them; 66.4 per cent have included organizations of persons with disabilities in the committees; and 46.0 per cent require gender balance and representation of all types of disabilities in the committees. By comparison, 16.8 per cent of responding countries have not taken steps to implement Rule 17.
- With respect to the effect that these measures have had on the actual situation, 69.0 per cent said that their committees had representation by persons with disabilities; 60.2 per cent said that their committees had legal status; 51.3 per cent said that all types of disabilities were represented on their committees; and 34.5 per cent said that their committees' membership was gender-balanced. Finally, 32.7 per cent said that their committees received adequate funding.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
- Respondents were asked what actions Governments had taken to ensure and encourage the formation and participation of organizations to represent persons with disabilities at the local, regional and national level.
- Initial analysis of responses shows that 45.1 per cent of countries have adopted policies to encourage the formation and participation of disabled persons' organizations; 45.1 per cent have passed legislation; and 46.0 per cent have launched programmes to empower and support disabled persons' organizations. In addition, 35.4 per cent have set administrative guidelines; 55.8 per cent have allocated financial resources; and 44.2 per cent have granted consultative status with the Government to disabled persons' organizations.
- Of the countries that responded, 61.9 per cent collaborate with disabled persons' organizations on all matters relating to persons with disabilities and 55.8 per cent have given them legal and representational status, while 11.5 per cent of countries have yet to adopt any measures.
- Regarding the role that disabled persons' organizations play, the survey revealed that in 67.3 per cent of countries they offer advice and guidance on policies; in 77.0 per cent they identify priorities; in 62.8 per cent they collaborate in planning; in 54.0 per cent they collaborate in monitoring and evaluation; and in 77.0 per cent they are actively involved in all awareness-raising efforts. Disabled persons' organizations play no significant role in a small number of countries, 6.2 per cent.
- Respondents were asked to what extent Governments ensure adequate training of personnel involved in the planning and provision of programmes and services concerning persons with disabilities.
- The survey found that 39.8 per cent of countries have adopted policies on personnel training; 24.8 per cent have passed legislation; 54.9 per cent have adopted training programmes; 39.8 per cent have set professional standards for personnel; 46.9 per cent have allocated financial resources for the training of personnel; 46.0 per cent have engaged in capacity-building of personnel; and 46.0 per cent involve disabled persons' organizations in their training; while 22.1 per cent have not taken any measures with respect to training.
National monitoring and evaluation of disability programmes in the implementation of the Rules
- In relation to the continuous monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of national programmes and services concerning the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities, the survey had the following results.
- Of the countries that responded, 46.9 per cent have adopted an official definition of disability; 39.9 per cent have established a national monitoring body; and 47.8 per cent have worked on collecting data on disability. In addition, 47.8 per cent have conducted a national census; 23.9 per cent have established a national registry; 47.8 per cent have used data collected by public institutions and service providers; and 47.8 per cent have used data collected by disabled persons' organizations. By comparison, 18.6 per cent have not taken any of the above measures to monitor equalization of opportunities.
- As for the scope of the monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, 43.4 per cent of responding countries said that they covered the size and prevalence of disability; 54.9 per cent that they covered types of disabilities; 48.7 per cent that they covered age distribution; 46.0 per cent that they covered disability according to gender; and 44.2 per cent that they covered disability according to geographical location. Additionally, 38.1 per cent reported that their monitoring activities included disabled persons' organizations; 38.1 per cent included service provision organizations; 33.6 per cent included service providers; and 24.8 per cent included others.
- With regard to the use of information from monitoring activities, 55.8 per cent reported using it to formulate policy; 51.3 per cent to amend and improve services; and 49.6 per cent to review and restructure programmes. Information is published and disseminated in 36.3 per cent of countries, while in 47.8 per cent it is used in awareness-raising and education. Furthermore, 47.8 per cent use information from monitoring activities in annual and periodical reports at the national level; 37.2 per cent in research; and 4.4 per cent for other purposes.
Technical and economic cooperation
- When asked about measures to improve living conditions of persons with disabilities in developing countries through technical and economic cooperation, 68.1 per cent of the responding countries said that they were signatories to international agreements and treaties; 51.3 per cent that they were party to bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements; and 61.9 per cent that they were either donors or recipients of financial aid.
- Furthermore, 67.3 per cent referred to cooperation in the context of exchanging information, best practices and the transfer of knowledge; 51.3 per cent referred to technological exchanges; 56.6 per cent reported participating in international development programmes; and 67.3 per cent reported taking part in regional and international initiatives. The proportion of countries that did not take any measures in this area was 13.3 per cent.
Minorities, refugees and other marginalized groups
- The survey incorporated specific questions concerning minorities, refugees and other marginalized segments of society.
- Of the countries that responded, 33.9 per cent include these groups in their measures, policies, programmes and services; 21.4 per cent have adopted programmes specific to the needs of persons with disabilities from these groups; and 25.9 per cent assist the families of persons with disabilities from these groups.
- With respect to services, 39.3 per cent reported taking measures to ensure that services are accessible to these groups and 25.0 per cent said that persons with disabilities belonging to these groups, and their families, were represented in disabled persons' organizations.
- Additionally, 41.1 per cent of respondents said they took measures to ensure that members of these groups had access to education; 24.1 per cent said that they provided access to employment; and 27.7 per cent that they provided appropriate housing.
- Protection for women and children is provided in 23.2 per cent of countries, and 23.2 per cent allocate financial resources to the issues and concerns of marginalized groups. No measures have been taken in 37.8 per cent of countries.
F. Conclusions regarding the survey
- The results of this survey represent a wealth of information that requires a great deal of further analysis and explication. I wanted to share these preliminary results. I will be working, along with the team that supports me, the members of the Panel of Experts and interested stakeholders, on analysing and explicating these results to build on and enrich existing data.
- During the coming months, countries that have not responded will be urged to do so. Priorities for the next phase of work will be set in accordance with the information gleaned from the survey.
- Efforts will be renewed to involve United Nations agencies dealing with health, education, employment, empowerment of women, population, social development, child rights and human rights.
- In addition to the survey, the past year included activities at all levels to monitor and further the implementation of the Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
- A parliamentary process was launched to raise awareness and build capacity among parliamentarians and legislators in the Arab region. The current year saw the convening of two of the 14 symposiums to be held over the next three years. The first symposium was held in Amman in March 2005;8 the second will be held in Beirut in December.
- A child-to-child awareness-raising programme was developed for use with schoolchildren, and educational authorities were encouraged to implement it.
- In my capacity as Special Rapporteur, I participated actively in conferences, symposiums, workshops, meetings and international and regional initiatives relating to the rights and equal opportunities of persons with disabilities.9
- Reinforced by objective monitoring, advocacy can be a most effective tool to encourage Governments, policymakers and decision makers to adopt the vision of equalizing opportunities for persons with disabilities.
- Advocacy is the main purpose for regional consultations and country visits, in which the Special Rapporteur meets with Government officials at the highest levels and with representatives of international development organizations and disabled persons' organizations. Efforts in this domain in 2005 were as follows.
- The Special Rapporteur held a meeting with the President of the General Assembly to discuss the inclusion of disability issues in the final document of the 2005 World Summit held in September. The General Assembly included disability in paragraphs 129 and 142 of the document (resolution 60/1). This result could not have been achieved without the cooperation of the permanent representatives, heads of regional delegations and disabled persons' organizations who supported the effort.
- A statement presented to the Commission on Human Rights in April called on the Commission to give disability issues a higher priority and to allow more time for discussing them during its meetings. The statement also called on United Nations monitoring bodies to include disability in their monitoring activities, paying particular attention to the issues of women and children in their review of country reports.
- In a meeting with the Government of Tunisia, the Special Rapporteur suggested that accessibility issues be taken into consideration during the refurbishment and restoration of vacation spots in coastal regions, and that those regions be marketed as destinations for persons with disabilities.
- In a meeting with the Ministry of Finance in Guinea, the Special Rapporteur suggested that the Government could translate its political commitment to persons with disabilities into reality by allocating appropriate funds.
- In a meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, it was suggested that Finland, along with other Nordic countries and in cooperation with the World Federation of the Deaf, could lend financial, technical and technological support to assist other regions in the formulation and development of policies, programmes and services for deaf persons. A concept paper and proposal are being prepared for this purpose.
- The work of the United Nations development agencies and funds has been a concern for the Special Rapporteur since the beginning of her mandate. Measures are being taken, through dialogue and inclusion in activities and programmes, to place disability among the priority areas of organizations dealing with women's issues, children's rights, population, health, education and nutrition.
- A questionnaire was designed and sent to the regional representatives of each organization asking them about their mandate, programmes, projects and activities as they relate to persons with disabilities, and the percentage of budgetary allocation that goes towards issues of disability. A few responded, but most declined, stating that those issues were not part of their mandate.
- During the year, meetings were held with the regional directors and executive secretaries of the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund and the United Nations Development Fund for Women, and a number of officials from the United Nations Development Programme.
C. Country visits and regional consultations
- In many developing countries the Government is the major, if not the sole, actor when it comes to setting policies, enacting legislation and delivering programmes. Owing to the weakness of advocacy efforts by civil society in some countries and the lack of sufficient resources, issues relating to disabilities have often been pushed to the bottom of the list of Government priorities.
- In the last 12 months, I conducted several country visits. Some were in response to invitations from Governments or disabled persons' organizations, while others were initiated on the basis of information and research or were based on the need to speed up, support or push forward certain initiatives or programmes.
- The aim of country visits and regional consultations has always been to open the channels of communication with Governments regarding the implementation of the Standard Rules, and to encourage dialogue between disabled persons' organizations and their Governments. Other activities include conducting, monitoring and assessing activities and witnessing first-hand the effect of such implementation or lack thereof.
- Country visits for 2005 included Northern and Western Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Guinea), Northern Europe (Sweden and Finland) and Southern and Eastern Africa (United Republic of Tanzania and South Africa).
- During these visits, meetings were held with (a) Government representatives including ministers, deputy ministers and parliamentarians; (b) disabled persons' organizations and federations; (c) development organizations; (d) rehabilitation centres, schools for children with disabilities and health institutions and centres; (e) programmes of particular significance (e.g. Finnish school for severely disabled children preparing to join mainstream education); and (f) media representatives.
- The focus of the visits was (a) to assess the implementation of the Standard Rules and monitoring of the areas of strength and weakness; (b) to listen to issues raised by disabled persons' organizations and discuss those concerns with relevant Government officials; (c) to observe country experiences and characteristics in dealing with issues of disability; and (d) to share successful experiences and good practices wherever possible.
- As the Special Rapporteur on Disability, I would not be able to fulfil the responsibilities entrusted to me by the Commission on Social Development without the help, cooperation, advice and counsel of organizations of persons with disabilities and the Panel of Experts representing those organizations.
- Two meetings of the Panel of Experts were held in 2005. The first was convened in Amman in March 2005 in conjunction with the Arab Parliamentary Symposium on Legislating Disability Issues in the Arab World, where members of the Panel shared their country experiences with legislating on disability. The second was held in New York in August 2005 in conjunction with the sixth session of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.
- Panel members made suggestions on the draft of my statement to the Commission on Human Rights and encouraged their country ambassadors to support the inclusion of disability in the 2005 World Summit Outcome.
- The support of the Panel, and the regular communication between its members and me have been instrumental to the successes of the past year.
- My previous report included a number of challenges and recommendations to Governments and disabled persons' organizations. During the past year, most of the activities concentrated on trying to meet these challenges and to urge Governments, relevant organizations and other stakeholders to respond to the recommendations.
- The task is not an easy one and the challenges are many. Only through a collaborative effort can we hope to create a world that will accept each of us with our diverse abilities, our weaknesses and strengths, and to exercise that diversity in creating such a world.
- All of the achievements to date in this domain constitute only a small dent in the huge task that needs to be accomplished. Making true progress towards an enabling world requires the combined efforts of all at every level - international, regional, national, communal and familial.
- Finally, I would like to say that despite the commitment shown by Member States to the promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities and to the equalization of opportunities for full participation, most have not matched their political commitment with a financial one.
- I invite and encourage all Member States to make contributions to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Disability in order to continue the valuable work of promoting and advancing the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities.